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tv   Melissa Harris- Perry  MSNBC  October 13, 2013 10:00am-12:00pm EDT

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this morning, my question. what can monica lewinsky teach us about ted cruz? plus, racism and the shutdown. it is not the story you think it is. and big freida comes to nerdland and she's bringing the twerk. but first, that giant sucking sound you heard from the values voters summit, that was the gop leadership vacuum. good morning. i'm melissa harris-perry. the old razzle-dazzle. that's how slick-talking lawyer billy flynn from the musical "chicago" described the power of spectacle to seduce an audience
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with substance over style. >> ♪ what if your hinges are all rusting ♪ ♪ what if, in fact, you're just disgusting? ♪ ♪ razzle-dazzle them and they'll never catch wise ♪ >> well, this week's poll numbers left no doubt that the rusty hinges of the gop and its tea party fringe are showing. and that americans are disgusted with what they see. just 24% approval. but try telling that to the bedazzled audience at this week's 2013 values voters summit, where the religious right raised the curtain on its very own version of a broadway spectacle. the annual conservative conference sponsored by the family research counsel kickeded off on thursday in washington, d.c. and it featured a who's who of the right wing's biggest stars, doing their very best billy flynn, and pulling out all the stops to keep their audience enthralled. some of the senate's biggest tea party showmen, ted cruz, rand paul, marco rubio, mike lee, all
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soft shoed their way through the night's very own version of traditional american values. and of course, they tap danced all around the truth, because who needs facts when you've got flair? you know the routine, speaking in a very loud voice, wild and emphatic jazz hand gesticulat n gesticulations and you've got to have props. why don't we let master of the old flimflam, michele bachmann, shows how it's done. >> we said, come on, let's go up, let's take this hill. 600 americans took the lincoln memorial on saturday! this is the police lineup tape! this is our consolation prize! >> yes, courageous michele bachmann declaring a victory over the tyranny of park service employees, who, thanks to the shutdown caused by her party, were working without pay to guard the lincoln memorial. brave michelle tearing down that wall, freeing americans to enter
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the memorial, her own party closed. now, as entertained as the values voters audience was by her heroic tale, the summit isn't just a three-ring circus for conservatives. it's also a freak show for progressives, who, let's be honest, y'all, gleefully hate watch right-wing wackiness to revel in the absolute absurdity. i would like to share my personal favorite. >> obama care is really, i think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. >> that was world-renowned dr. ben carson, once known as a brilliant neurosurgeon, who pioneered the surgical separation of conjoined twins. now known as the guy who can't tell the difference between an economic plan built on the ownership of people and an economic plan built to get people affordable health care coverage. now, the values voters crowd isn't all doom and gloom.
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they're solving problems too. for instance, if you're gay or lesbian, conservative talk show host sandy rios thinks she's got the cure for what ails you. >> anybody know an ex-gay? you know what? they are everywhere. and the reason you don't hear about them is because they are maligned and threatened. >> or maybe we don't hear about them because the standard-bearer for the so-called h eed ex-gay movement, exodus, apologize to the lbgt community and shut down after nearly four decades in business. but, surely, we'll find some morsel of sanity in alan west's plans to end gun violence in american cities. >> the united states of america is number three in the world in murders. but if you take away four cities from the united states of america, we're fourth from the bottom for murders. if you take away chicago, if you take away detroit, you take away new orleans, and you take away
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washington, d.c.. >> or not. i mean, why bottom to do the difficult work of tackling the social economic, social inequities that make these cities fertile the ground for violence, we can just get rid of the cities altogether. and according to e.w. jackson, or as i like to call him, eww, america doesn't need to change, because it's a place whose perfection comes secondly only to the messiah himself. >> i love this country! i believe in it! it's been the greatest blessing given to mankind, other than jesus himself. >> the values voter summit team, a razzle-dazzle rockets, certainly gave their audience their money's worth, but they weren't the only ones who got caught up in the act. because we all just spent the last week watching as that whacky fringe of the republican party hijacked the country, shut down the u.s. government. so, somehow, while we were all
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bedazzled by the spectacle, the side show managed to become the main event. with me in the studio this morning, reverend paul raushenbush, senior religion editor at "the huffington post," alan jenkins, bill snyder, whose distinguished senior fellow and resident collar at third way, and allison kill kenny, co-host of citizen radio and a reporter for the nation. thanks for you all to being here. >> thanks. >> paul, can you respond? i know you were watching very closely the values voter summit. what did you see? >> i saw something i used to fear and really saw it as a threat. and i saw it as a little bit pathetic this year. i thought, okay, they're really hitting us on gay marriage, which they're losing. they're hitting us on, you know, with ted cruz, who just is 14% negativity ratings. that was their star. michele bachmann, who just went out there saying, the end times are coming because obama is funding terrorists.
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these are their a-team. this is not -- and the entire country is desperate for an end to the shutdown. and from this group, they're hearing this horrible rhetoric, that is divisive and exactly what the american people don't want to hear. >> and yet, so i'm with you, and my producers and i were sitting there and watching this and this is part of how we come up, oh, this is so nuts and a side show. and as much as they even frame themselves as the persecuted minority, the level of empowerment, the fact that ted cruz, whatever his positivity or negativity ratings are, has been the architect of a shutdown that's having a real impact on people's lives. >> it's clear they can't be overtly racist anymore, that doesn't stop a lot of them, but they try to talk in code now. so instead of attacking minorities or attacking poor people of color, they attack programs that benefit those people. so they talk about reforming social security, they talk about reforming pension plans. and when you stop to think about it, it's like, who does that
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effect, though? it tends to be poor people of o colo color. >> i mentioned this idea that there are sort of socially acceptable ways to frame what our values are, relative to our politics. and ana, i know this is really the work that y'all do at the opportunity agenda. because as much as on the left it's easy to sit there and say, what are they talking about, the fact is they've been very effective in using the language of american values to frame what their policies are. >> they have, but i think they've really gob off the rails this time. when you think about, what values are they actually conv conveying over the last couple of days? number one, you're on your own. so you can't get health insurance through the private market because you've got a pre-existing condition? too bad, you shouldn't have gotten sick. big banks, financial industry screwed you out of your mortgage, well, you should have been more wily about it, right? that's the first one. second one is only a very narrow slice of americans in their vision are actually part of the american family. one religious belief, one
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ideological belief, one type of family, quite literally, otherwise, you're an outsider. it's completely disconnected not only with where our nation is going from a demographic standpoint, but the values that people are coalescing around, the idea that we're all in it together. >> this is interesting to me, bill. the language that you just used, being altogether or sort of having to go it alone, president obama tried to use this framing in part as a way to think about what his 2012 message was. i want to listen to president obama back in march of 2012 on the run-up to the election, using that very similar language. >> their philosophy is simple. you're on your own. if you're out of a job, touch luck. figure it out on your own. if you don't have health care, too bad. you're on your own. >> so, bill, it seems to me like that part of the president's rhetorical genius, initially, was an attempt to reframe this question of values. do you think that the left at this point or the obama administration, particularly,
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has been effective at re-taking the language of values? >> yes, because what he's fighting back against is the idea of limited government, which is what united the right. you've got two whacky fringe movements. in a way they're competitive, the religious right and the tea party. they overlap. about half of the tea party considers themselves religious right. but we saw at this convention, the value voters convention, which is the religious right meeting, that they've really been kind of eclipsed by the tea party. the tea party's emphasis is on economics. and they want limited government involved in the economy. the religious right's emphasis is on religious values, abortion, gay rights, same-sex marriage. where they think the federal government has been too aggressive on those issues and violated their religious liberties. they both believe in limited government, but the tea party doesn't like to talk about abortion and gay rights. the religious right, that's their main agenda. >> so is that -- in a lot of ways, the sort of emergence of the moral majority itself was always a challenge to the reagan
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version of small government conservatism, that was the core of the republican party. are we seeing a fracturing that can no longer hold? >> i spent some time with people in the religious right, even back in the 1980s, when reagan was first formulating the idea. they considered big government government controlled by liberals. they call them secular humanists, who use the power of big government to violate their personal religious liberties. they believe, correctly in many cases, that most of the issues that the religious right talks about was put on the agenda by aggressive federal judges, like manning school prayer, mandating the teaching of evolution, giving abortion constitutionally protected status as a right, gay rights. they think these things were put on the agenda by aggressive federal judges. that's their main complaint. >> stay right with us, but before we take a break, i want to take a listen as we go out to one of the most reasonable voices we heard on capitol hill this week. it was actually the senate chaplain, barry black.
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i'm going to take you back to july 1863. the union army just repelled confederate forces in get tysb g gettysburg. more than 50,000 soldiers were killed or wounded. the governor of pennsylvania set aside the land as a burial site and monument to those who had
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given their lives. and on november 18th, 1963, that land was dedicated. the keynote speaker for the event was edward everett and everett spoke for more than two hours and then he was followed by president abraham lincoln, who spoke for only two minutes. lincoln's gettysburg address remains the most forceful argument of the key values that binds all americans. of course, the president said, fourscore and seven years ago, our fathers brought fourth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. acknowledging the ultimate sacrifice of the slain soldiers, lincoln went on to charge, "it is rather for us to be here, dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion that we
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here had to resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain. that this nation, under god, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth." as i watched the rambling, divisive spectacle of the values voter summit, i kept thinking of plainspoken lincoln, warning that our most important value is preservation of the union. alan, i really -- i expect us to disagree as americans, but i am disturbed by our willingness to rend the country apart, given the sacrifices that we have already made to keep ourselves together. >> right. the gettysburgs address are a reminder that diversity is one of the nation's strength. it's actually a long-standing american value, even though we have never fully acknowledge ordinary achieved it. that, you know, this notion of e pluribus unum, right, out of many, one, that's both about rancorous states coming together to form one country, but it's also about different people from different traditions all being
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part of the american family. just like most of our real families, we fight, we disagree, right, but we love each other and we know we're all part of a common endeavor and a common good. that's what that speech is about. that's what more and more americans are embracing, but what this values summit has really departed from it, a pretty challenging way. >> bill, so weigh in for me here. >> well, i teach a class, like you do, and a student once asked me, is this the most divided we've ever been as a country? >> this is exactly what i wanted to ask you, right? >> and i thought about it and i said, well, you know, son, we did once have a civil war. three quarters of a million americans were killed in that civil war, but i think, and many historians believe that this is the most divided we've been since the terrible civil war of the 1860s. this is a case where americans are tearing each other apart. one of the key trends that we've seen in the past 30 years is increasing political segregation. people tend to live among other people who vote the same way. texas does not have a single elected statewide democrat.
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hasn't since 1994. california and new york don't have a single elected statewide republican. that's not gerrymandering. >> not states. >> but those states have become far more uniform. that's division. >> and i'm so grateful that you took us there, because i keep trying to decide whether an acknowledgement of the civil war and of that moment should make us nervous or feel better, like make us feel as though we're not at our lowest point. >> i'm actually okay with arguing. in some cases, i wish we had a little more argument. but i'm worried about consensus on certain issues. like consensus on privatization, consensus on reform of pensions. >> i'm very concerned about consensus on our education policy. >> so in some cases, i wish there was a more vibrant debate, actually. i'm a little worried that people like ted cruz or michele bachmann aren't really considered the radical outsiders we all consider them to be in d.c. actually, in d.c., you're radical if you're anti-reform, anti-privatization. >> so let me ask you, because you covered so carefully for
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"the nation," the occupy movement. and this was a moment when there was an attempt to reconfigure, at least the discursive space about what americans value. how successful do you think occupy actually was in changing what the inside the beltway conversation was, about what constitutes americans? >> they were able to get the president of the united states, president obama, to talk about class. that in itself is a huge achievement, to have the president talk about that. wealth division is the defining issue of tour time, i think he said, and that was a direct cause of the occupy movement. however, it was clear how far to the right we had strayed that the tea party was so much better able to capitalize on their movement than the occupy wall street movement was. that was also different in motives, but it was just interesting that the tea party was able to slip into government rather easily, whereas the occupy wall street movement was painted as radicals from get-go. >> quick comment, the occupy movement made one enduring contribution.
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it is two words, 1%. everyone knows what 1% is. in a way, that is as powerful as everything the tea party did. it destroyed mitt romney. >> because when romney then says 47%, it actually ends up reflecting that 1% narrative, that becomes to the fore as a result of -- >> it changed the conversation. >> let me ask about changing the conversation. because, paul, for some folks who watches the value voters summit and others, they say, you know what, this is a problem of values language or religious language in particular, being in the public sphere, as part of political arguments at all. so the answer is to purge religion and to purge sort of values narratives, as part of how we should even be talking about policy positions. is this -- are we in the space where we need to purge it or shift it, or particularly as a person of faith, how do you respond? >> the first thing i would say is that, why don't we try lifting up that scripture, sorry, i'm going to preach here for a moment. >> do it. it's sunday morning. >> it's not just loving those who we love, it's also about
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loving your enemies. and we have to remember that there was a reason that jesus talked about this. because he saw how people could be rent apart. and it doesn't just hurt the nation, it hurts us as individuals. we need to be preaching more about that, that we need to be reaching out. but i also think that we need to be prophetic in our language of faith, and not say, it's all about me. it is not all about me. and the gospel is not all about me. that is very important to remember. it is not an individualistic or a privatized gospel. the gospel is about lifting everybody up. it is about loving your neighbor as yourself. and if you're willing to let someone go by without health care and without a s.n.a.p. benefits, $40 billion taken away from s.n.a.p. benefits, voted by republican largely people of faith, you're not talking about the gospel. so i don't think it's language of faith. it's how we use language of faith to be inclusive rather than exclusive. >> yeah, it's a different reading of sort of what happens on that hillside when jesus feeds the multitudes with very
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little, versus being like, well, these are my fish, this is my bread, i'm going to just keep this over here. up next, how some wealthy people are trying to preserve the union by spending a lot of money to help us elect few. (dad) just feather it out. that's right. (son) ok. feather it out. (dad) all right. that's ok. (dad) put it in second, put it in second. (dad) slow it down. put the clutch in, break it, break it. (dad) just like i showed you. dad, you didn't show me, you showed him. dad, he's gonna wreck the car! (dad) he's not gonna wreck the car. (dad) no fighting in the road, please. (dad) put your blinker on. (son) you didn't even give me a chance! (dad) ok. (mom vo) we got the new subaru because nothing could break our old one. (dad) ok. (son) what the heck? let go of my seat! (mom vo) i hope the same goes for my husband. (dad) you guys are doing a great job. seriously. (announcer) love a car that lasts. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. whoa! sweet mother of softness. paws off pal. just one squeeze? just enjoy it with your eyes. [ female announcer ] new charmin ultra soft is so soft, you don't even have to squeeze it to believe it.
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[ male announcer ] campbell's homestyle soup with farm grown veggies. just like yours. huh. [ male announcer ] and roasted white meat chicken. just like yours. [ male announcer ] you'll think it's homemade. i love this show. [ male announcer ] try campbell's homestyle soup. with the government frozen for 13 days, wealthy donors are now doing the governing. here's what i mean. there's billionaires laura and john arnold, who personally provided the money needed to reopen seven head start programs in six states. the texas-based insurance company, usaa ponied up the funds for last saturday's football game between air force and navy. and north carolina-based food lion made a $500,000 donation to regional food banks across the state to fill the gap in food assistance caused by the shutdown. now, these are worthy acts. they reflect important values of the donors.
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but government of, by, and for the people is not reducible to the pet projects of the few. how does the left and the obama administration in particular fail to make a clear values-based argument for why government is good and could they now, with the shutdown? >> well, absolutely, i think the baffling thing is that the president is quite good at making that case in the election cycle. and then he forgets to do it in between. i think it's incumbent upon all of us. the thing about the shutdown, it blows up the conservative narrative, that government does nothing for us. you can believe it's like, the fish doesn't know he's in water until he's flipping around on the dock, right? so once you stop getting veterans benefits, once we close the national parks and the like, people start to remember, oh, that's what our government is for. that's how we come together to solve things and to address problems. that, then, makes it very difficult for this conservative argument that government is useless. >> i also, just, i'm a little
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frustrated by this narrative that the billionaires are coming to save us. the media is like largely complicit in that and it reinforces conservatives' message. but for example, john arnold, this story drives me insane, this man is also working to privatize pensions. it was nowhere in the stories about him being so generous and giving so much money to head start, you know, can we also consider that that is potentially, yes, maybe he has goodness in his heart, but it also serves as a pr cover for him. then he can go and work to privatize pensions and everyone will say, oh, this man is so, you know, so generous, saved our children. and he just wants to help with pensions. . >> isn't -- it is, in fact, the long-term strategy of the koch brothers, right? they are both these incredibly generous donors to educational and artistic and medical practices. and, working with art pope to buy the state of north carolina and restrict voting and change and resegregate public schools in the state. both of those are true at the same time. which is part of why you need
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democratically elected government that is accountable to the people. because you can't vote koch out of office, right? he's a private -- they're private individuals. >> right. and now we know that money equals free speech, right? so that's another thing, where it's sort of like, if we can have billionaires who can literally buy whatever they want, whether that's privatizing, you know, social security, privatizing pension plans, then it's like, well, why do we vote at all? why does it matter? >> also, you can -- this is a perfect argument, but we don't need government. this -- and you hear this over and over again, in conservative churches. the government shouldn't be helping the poor. we should do that in the churches. >> not realizing that it's just a small sliver of what it takes to actually keep people out of poverty the churches ever give. it is the government that is the only one that is equipped to help people on a massive level. >> there's this way that government has become this thing that's out there, that is somehow not us. and for people who lived through
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and are on the other side of katrina, we recognize the deep power of charity and the ways in which good people, conservative, liberal, white, black, northern, southern rushed in with charitable acts post-katrina. but charity is not justice. and without government intervention to fundamentally rebuild the city, to change sort of the practices, all the charity in the world, no matter how good-hearted, is simply insufficient. >> this country was founded on the idea of limited government. the first constitution we wrote had to be thrown out the window, the articles of confederation, because it provided a government that was almost powerless. people came here seeking economic freedom and religious freedom, the puritans and many others. they didn't like government, they didn't like established churches. we have a -- it's in our genes. we have a history of belief in limited government. now, what's happening with conservatives right now is they see a sinister agenda in the idea of government. they believe that what democrats are trying to do is use integration reform and the health care plan to create more dependency on government, because then people who benefit
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from those programs, the immigrant who is become legalized and people who get health care will favor more and bigger government, and that will create a bigger democratic party. that's what they believe is the agenda. >> and yet, as much as it's true that we were founded on that sort of belief in the limitations of government, in part because we're pushing back against a monarch, we've also expanded it over time. the realities of a post world war ii america require that we re-think the relationship of government. >> and it was always expanded pragmatically to solve specific problems. that's the important thing. americans are pragmatists. pragmatists believe that whatever works is right. ideologues believe if something is wrong, it can't work, even if it does work. >> yeah, yeah. thank you all for being here. paul, you're heading out, but i appreciate you being here. everybody else is sticking around. and up next, we're going to talk about what monica lewinsky teaches us about ted cruz. no, i promise it has nothing to do with this. ♪
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what do you think american voters pay more attention to, spectacle or substance? i ask because the ascendency of senator ted cruz has been one of spectacle. his 21-hour talkathon on the senate floor, his reported confrontation with president obama at the white house on friday, the welcome he received at the values voters summit this weekend. >> thank you so very, very much. >> thank you! >> thank you! >> if god is for you, who can be against you? >> thank you. i received that blessing. >> now, the texas senator is being talked about as a real contender in the 2016 presidential primary. but i like to argue that americans deep down care much more about substance than spectacle. to help me make that point, i
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turn now to monica lewinsky. bear with me for a moment, i have a point, i promise. let's go back to january 1998, when news first broke of president clinton's sexual encounters with lewinsky when she was a white house intern. the story dominated the "nightly news" for days and you may remember the year-long media circus that followed. it was spectacle, to be sure. americans were bombarded with imagines of lewinsky, juicy details of their tryst, and video of president clinton denying having sexual relations with that woman, basically played on a loop. here's a clip from a one-hour special that nbc news did on the president in crisis. >> a week ago, she was an unknown former white house intern. today, monica lewinsky is fast becoming as well known as the man whose career her testimony could threaten. >> i did not have sexual relations with that woman, miss lewinsky. >> despite the pointed denial by president clinton, the sex
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scandal has become the number one topic in this country. >> so, what did those american voters think of the whole spectacle? did it change their general support for the president? well, spoiler alert, not really. clinton's approval ratings took a dive in those first two days, dropping from an average 60% to 53%. but then a funny thing happened. his poll numbers bounced right back, and they climbed even higher than his pre-lewinsky numbers, to a whopping 72%, 11 days after the scandal first broke. in other words, despite the tawdry news, the media spectacle that had engulfed the presidency, americans still approved of how the president was doing his job. now, one political scientist wanted to know why. john zoler, who is sort of the king of public opinion studies in the nerdy world of political science took a closer look. and zoler argued that clinton didn't dim in america's eyes, because the substance of his presidency, in early 1998, was so strong. the economy was booming, crime was down, the country was at
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peace. and clinton had become quite the moderate, slashing welfare and championing social security at the same time. so, zoler concluded that american voters care less about political spectacle and more about political substance. what does all that mean for ted cruz? it means, perhaps, that american voters, republican voters, even, can see right through his shiny facade to the lack of substance underneath, as the latest polls tell us, people hate the government shutdown. they know it's hurting the country. and they know congressional republicans are to blame. and they don't really like senator cruz himself all that much either. in the latest nbc news poll, twice as many people thought negatively as cruz as positively. i mean, just look at the big speech that shot him into the spotlight. the substance of that speech was, well, not all that substantial. >> i do not like them, sam i, am, i do not like green eggs and ham. >> so here's the question. will americans vote for the wizard of cruz or will they, instead, see the man behind the
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this recent days, ted cruz has been called a lot of things. the leader of the republican party, a hero, democrats' biggest 2014 weapon, democrats' new bogeyman, and miley cyrus of the senate. but who is he really? he's a canadian born american who opposes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. he's a tea partier, who opposes expanding health coverage through the affordable care act and reportedly gets his own coverage through his wife's job at goldman sachs. he's an anti-elitist who attended princeton and graduated meghna cum laude from harvard law school, where he was editor of the "law review." who is ted cruz and more importantly, what does his rise
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mean for the republican party? joining the panel is jalani cobb. thanks for you all being here again. bill, who is -- how can we place ted cruz in the understanding of the modern republican party? >> well, first of all, remember, he's a freshman senator. freshman as opposed to to the senior, even hillary clinton, who took a very low profile. but he's been the most outspoken republican in the senate. and notice what happened if he got -- he won the tea party -- the value voters senate straw poll. >> yes. >> he's not really a values voter. that is, he doesn't give that much prominence to social issues. he's a tea party republican. the tea party has taken over the values voters. they see the tea party as doing what they wish they could do, taking the lead on confronting president obama. >> right. this guy is, as you point out, a freshman senator, but allison, the quinnipiac poll for the 2016 republican party shows him polling up there with the top folks. you've got rand paul and chris christie at the top of it, but there's ted cruz coming in right
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over there with paul ryan, who is a much more household name. he won the value voters straw poll with our friend, carson coming in second. so the guy is, #winning at the moment, right? >> what concerns me, it's super fun to hate ted cruz. it feels really good to have a two-minute hate. >> yes. >> but, the thing is, he's not -- he's radical, but he's not treated like the social p pariah he all is. but the community he's choosing to target are like traditionally targets of the gop. poor people, disenfranchised people, marginalized people. so for democrats, like, i know it feels good, but i'm also concerned, because a lot of these ideas are being mainstreamed. even amongst moderate democrats, like, as i said before, privatizing pensions, privatizing social security. these started at extreme right-wing ideas and now very serious democrats are saying, well, we need some kind of reform, right? >> it's worth pointing out, the
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thing we are fighting to reopen the government to do is to fund at sequester levels, right? the thing that was supposed to be so awful that no one would go for it is our new baseline. jowani, this morning, apparently, there was a bit of an attempt to retake the world war ii memorial by veterans. so senator cruz showed up. and i want to listen to senator cruz's understanding of the shutdown and then have you respond to it. >> two weeks ago, the house of representatives passed legislation to open every memorial in every federal park in this country. two weeks ago, the president of the united states signed a written veto threat. he said, if you open the memorial, i will veto it. [ booing ] >> make him do it! >> well, you know, we should make him do it, but right now that bill sits on harry reid's desk and harry reid will not even allow the senate to vote.
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>> so, what? >> i think it's a great speech. i wish they had not photoshopped out the pitchforks. but i think the thing that's interesting about this and what ted cruz represents, and i mean, i say this -- i'll be glib, admittedly, that one of the things people noticed about ted cruz is that he looks a lot like justice mccarthy. and it's hard to not kind of feel that way about him, standing in front of this crowd, waiting for him to say, i have 205 communists who work for the state department list in his hand. and what i think is instructive in some ways, that what he represents is a very visible, highly agitated group that ultimately does the republican party more damage than it does good. in the same way that joseph mccarthy became a headache for the republican party as well. >> i'm not convinced of that. i know that's what those polls show, right. but if we look at the polls, they will tell us americans are blaming the republicans and we'll look at the polls and it
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says, you know, americans don't have a very strong opinion of ted cruz. but i am not -- i still think it's a kind of democratic, progressive, lefty view that says, oh, this is tearing the republican party apart. >> i agree, yeah. i think a lot of this depends on the poverty rates. and who people decide is at fault for them not being able to find a job. so i think it has less to do, you know, the media circus that you were talking about before, and more like, who is actually trying to create jobs? who's actually at fault for -- and a lot of that is subjective. who do you blame for the government shutdown? like, if you're a republican, you can twist things and blame the democrats. >> but apparently it's president obama's fault that you can't go to the memorials, not the fault of congressional republicans. hold for me for a moment. when we come back, i want to send a very pointed question to my guest, bill, an issue that he touched on earlier. because there is a tale of two first-term senators. is ted cruz trying to be the
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next barack obama? when we come back. ready to run your lines? okay, who helps you focus on your recovery? yo, yo, yo. aflac. wow. [ under his breath ] that was horrible. pays you cash when you're sick or hurt? [ japanese accent ] aflac. love it. [ under his breath ] hate it. helps you focus on getting back to normal? [ as a southern belle ] aflac. [ as a cowboy ] aflac. [ sassily ] aflac. uh huh. [ under his breath ] i am so fired.
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a brand-new senator with presidential potential. does ted cruz remind you of anyone? the comparison is certainly not lost on president obama. >> you know, if you recall, when i came into the senate, my attitude was, i should just keep a pretty low profile in the senate and just do the work. >> the media certainly didn't let you do that. >> the media may not have, but i didn't go around courting the media and i certainly didn't go around trying to shut down the government. >> of course, our dear friend, senator cruz, had a response earlier this week, speaking on the fox news channel with megan kelly. >> i wish he hadn't been following his own advice in the last month. i mean, the president has kept such a low profile. he has been awol. he has not been part of the
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negotiations. >> so you made this point earlier, bill, you know, they have a lot of similarities, law school review editor at harvard. >> harvard. >> you know, both of them, you know, as freshman senators, with a lot of eyes on them. but president obama was like, look, i was trying to do my work, keep my head down, and obviously, ted cruz is courting the spectacle. >> and making quite a flash. remember howard dean during the passions of the anti-iraq war movement. he vaulted to the top of the democratic list in 2007. everyone knew he was going to get the nomination. and a few weeks later, he just fell apart in iowa. ted cruz could be the same kind of candidate, who stirs a lot of passion, but then when republicans take a look at him and think about it carefully, they say, you know, it would be tough to elect this guy. remember, the last two elections, they nominated john mccain and they nominated mitt romney. neither one of them was a favorite of conservatives. conservatives had to swallow hard. what lesson do they take from that? do they say, you know, we have to nominate someone who has
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broader appeal, or do they say, we've gone to the center twice. we lost both times. now we want the real thing. the real thing is ted cruz. >> interesting, yeah. >> i think, also, melissa, that a big difference, one of the many differences between obama and cruz, obama was looking to the nation as a whole. he was articulating a vision, we remember hope and change. it was about the future of the country. cruz is taking a very cynical, self-serving path to what he believes is the nomination, to the tea party folks who control the primary process in the republican party. but it's not about the nation as a whole. and i think it's a miscalculation. you know, you mentioned pathway to citizenship for undocumented folks. two-thirds of the country believe there should be a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. and that includes a majority of republicans, but not the tea party. >> and yet, cruz, when you ask him about it, he believes that he is taking this -- you know, in his statement, this is on saturday night, right? so at this point, we're 12 days into the shutdown. and on saturday night he says that the people want jobs and
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strong economic growth back, and that obama care is a major impediment to both. he writes, as long as we keep listening to the people and fighting for jobs and prosperity, republicans will win this debate. so he's framing it in the big -- >> and that's smart, you know? it'll work. especially if there's a high unemployment rate. my concern, you know, is that a lot of undecided voters, and lets remember, the republicans don't have to win by a large margin, especially if they disenfranchise millions of voters. so they have to get close enough and then win the election. and if he capitalizes on that message, it's hard to prove a negative, but i will do a better job creating jobs than any democratic candidate can. he just has to get close enough. and if there's enough cynicism, you know, cynicism is a powerful thing. they could win an election. >> and they only need to get those disenfranchised voters in a few key states, right? because of the nature of the electoral college. so when we see what's happening in north carolina and sort of the ways in which this very purple state is being shifted to the red, then, in fact, you've
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seen an electoral strategy that maybe isn't long-term, right, for the gop. but in the short-term, could benefit a cruz. >> listen, there's 71% of latinos voted for barack obama in 2012. that's a significant obstacle. if we're looking at the demographics of the republican party getting four years older than they were in the last election cycle, that is a very big obstacle for them to get over. >> but this man, is a senator from texas. like, i feel like as much as we've talked about how this shutdown has been made possible in part by gerrymandering, and so the idea that the tea party -- i mean, republicans in the house aren't accountable, this man is the senator from texas. this is not a small little marginal state. he's won statewide and had to win with latino votes and has his own sort of narrative of a post-cuban past to be able to talk about. >> i don't think that necessarily plays nationally. i think one of the other things
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that's interesting, when this 150th anniversary of the civil war that we've been talking about now, and if we looked a t it in a different sense, what we have actually is a kind of district-by-district version of sectionalism. where people are more defined by their region than by their political party. that's what the republican party is really dealing with. it's just not geographic. it's just kind of district by district. and that's why it's so hard and intractable for them to figure out where they're going to go with it. >> stay with us, i want to go to exactly some of the points you're talking about here and what we can learn from a history, particularly, a history of race and sectionalism that helps us to understand the shutdown. i do want to point out, though, that ted cruz in a "times" interview, that he said he gave to christmas to his staff, the david plouffe book, "the audacity to win," because he was so inspired by what freshman senator obama did in terms of becoming president. it'll be fun to watch these two fight it out. coming up next, the role of race in the shutdown and why this
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moment has been a long time coming. plus, twerk alert. the queen of bounce, big freida is here. more nerdland at the top of the hour. mine was earned orbiting the moon in 1971. afghanistan in 2009. on the u.s.s. saratoga in 1982. [ male announcer ] once it's earned, usaa auto insurance is often handed down from generation to generation because it offers a superior level of protection and because usaa's commitment to serve current and former military members and their families is without equal. begin your legacy. get an auto insurance quote. usaa. we know what it means to serve.
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i get out a lot... except when it's too cold. like the last three weekends. asthma doesn't affect my job... you missed the meeting again last week! it doesn't affect my family. your coughing woke me up again. i wish you'd take me to the park. i don't use my rescue inhaler a lot... depends on what you mean by a lot. coping with asthma isn't controlling it. test your level of control at, then talk to your doctor. there may be more you could do for your asthma. the end. lovely read susan. but isn't it time to turn the page on your cup of joe? gevalia, or a cup of johan, is like losing yourself in a great book. may i read something? yes, please. of course. a rich, never bitter taste cup after cup.
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net weight 340 grams. [ sighs ] [ chuckles ] [ announcer ] always rich, never bitter. gevalia. welcome back. i'm melissa harris-perry. we are now in the 13th day of government shutdown. how did we get here? now, we were driven here by texas senator ted cruz, who engineered the obama care defunding hostage strategy. we've stayed here because speaker john boehner is unable to tame the tea party and unwilling to work with democrats to pass a clean continuing resolution that would reopen government. some might even argue president obama shares blame, because he won't negotiate piecemeal deals hastily offered by republicans, panicked by plummeting poll numbers. but in an essay published last week for think progress, reporter zach beech beauchamps
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offered an alternative explanation. racism caused the shutdown. he said, this isn't an article about how republicans shut down the government because they hate that the president is black. this is an historic piece connecting key political moments from the turn of the 20th century to today. after the depression, southerners became a minority in congress for the first time. in response, they innovated a minority obstruction strategy, the southern veto, to thwart progressive racial policy. those dixie dixaccurates and cot hold. dix dixiecrats succeeded and they embraced the southern strategy as a way to win national elections. what does all of this have to do
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with the shutdown? beauchamps argues that the republican party has inherited this radically and racially conservative fringe who like their dixiecrat predecessors are building barricades to meaningful governing. this isn't about the president being black, this is about how decades of legislative racism taught republicans the strategies of rigid ideological obstruction. joining me now is president and executive director of the applied research center, publisher of, and author of "the accidental american." also, alan jenkins, executive director of the opportunity agenda. bill schneider, distinguished senior fellow and resident scholar at third way, who when i said we would be joined by big freida, he said who, and jelani cobb, thanks to all of you for being here. jelani, i thought zach's piece was so insightful in terms of
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helping us to understand, as he writes it, the ways in which race and racism form the scaffolding and structures of american politics. >> well, i think this is important. historians and political historians have been noticing this for a minute, which is the stunning degree of alignment that you see between the tea party and the dixiecrat party and what happens is the dixiecrat party comes about as a result from the democratic party realizing that their democratic future laid with these northern black voters. and their agenda in 1949, they never thought they could win the 1948 presidential election. but they could broker for more outsized influence. and when you look at the republican party, the tea party faction is, among other things, primarily a response to people recognizing that the democratic future of this country is black and brown. particularly in the republican party. they're caught between this rock
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and a hard place, pleasing their center base kind of core constituency, and appealing to the people who they know they're going to need to win future elections. that is the same thing that franklin roosevelt, that harry truman, that lyndon johnson and that all of them were trying to figure out in the 1930 through the 1960s. and and what's so amazing about this analysis is that it moves us away from thinking of racism as like holding the sign that says, you know, president obama is a muslim immigrant. i mean, okay. whatever, right? because though people weren't going to vote for the president, you know, anyway and they weren't going to support ft.'s policies, because that's just sort of an old-fashioned version of racism. but this notion that race has structured who we are is more complicated to come to terms with. and i think more complicated for us to therefore generate new structures around. >> yeah, i think, you know, what i found interesting in zach's article was the notion of white flight from the democratic
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party. i think that makes a lot of sense. and i actually think that the gop has become really, really good over that 50 years at generating disdain for government by focusing on negative stereotypes of people of color. i had this experience once in 1999, on new year's eve, at dawn of the new millennium. i was in a grocery store in california. and i overheard this white woman in her 50s talking to a white man about a union that had been decertified in that same grocery store. they were really mad about the union being gone. and i poked my nose in and said, oh, i couldn't help overhearing, i work a lot on labor issues, i was just curious what union it was. and the woman skipped a beat, looked at me, but spoke to her friend and said, but the blacks and the latinos, now, they can get all the welfare they want. and dawn of the new millennium, the year of 2000. and after a decade in california, where we had passed ballot measures, cutting
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undocumented immigrants off from public services, including kids from public schools, destroying affirmative action in the state, passing the three strikes you're out law, so those kinds of -- that kind of imagery gets baked into our policy making, into the collective decisions we make as an institution. >> so there are a bunch of things about that story that i really love, that i want to ask you to respond to a little bit. because one, it's kind of the generational piece that you point out, when you say say, sort of, she's over 50, but also this idea of labor and race, and the interconnections and the ways in which sometimes white labor will position itself over and against people of color and their concerns, even though, in fact, they would benefit from similar policies. i want to read for you, allan, senator bailey in 1938, democrat from north carolina. this is in his opposition to anti-lynching legislation. and he says, just as when the republicans in the 1860s undertook to impose the national will upon us with respect to the negro, we resented it and hated that party with a hatred that
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has outlasted generations. we hated it beyond measure. we hated it more than was right for us and more than was just. we hated it because of what it had done to us before the wrong it undertook to put upon us. and just as the same spols destroyed the hope of the republican party in the south, the same policy adopted by the democratic party will destroy the democratic party in the south. this is a conservative dixiecrat in 1968. there is no way that this is gone. saying that we hated you since lincoln, because of imposing freedom on the south. >> right. the persistence of this idea of federal government, and especially a strong federal government, equals forced equal opportunity, in a way that some constituencies don't like, is very, very lasting. and there's something that else that goes along with it. you have now conservative republican gerrymandering of districts, including house districts, on top of residential
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segregation. but it flows from jim crowe, white flight and the like. which means in a very diverse america, very different america than at that time, you can still have these districts in which the people they send to congress don't feel responsible to all americans. and that's a remarkable accomplishment, and a terrible accomplishment, that those districts can still -- >> and obviously, zach starts in sort of the mid-20th century. but the very fact that we have a senate where wyoming and california both have the same number of votes, right, has everything to do with the realities of slavery and having to try to manage a union that was both stick with us, i'm brigging bill snyder? on this as soon as we come back. there is more on this question of whether or not racism caused the shutdown. i'm beth... and i'm michelle. and we own the paper cottage. it's a stationery and gifts store. anything we purchase for the paper cottage
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their cause must be our cause too. because it's not just negroes, but really, it's all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. and we shall overcome. >> that was president lyndon johnson in march of 1965, as he pressed for passage of the voting rights act. it was a stunning moment that unreconstructed texas accent in an american president openly acknowledging the country's history of racism and its corrosive effect on our national promise. i think it's a lesson we still have not fully learned. so i wanted to come to that moment, in part because we
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have -- i mean, we have made progress. it's something about zach's piece does make it feel as though there's an unbroken line, but the line isn't unbroken. there's been sort of an unstudy progress, forward and backwards. >> of course. look, republicans define themselves by hatred of the federal government. african-americans are the only constituency in the united states that doesn't viscerally hate the federal government. they have causes for resentment. the federal government rescued african-americans from intolerable situations on two occasions. the 1860s from slavery, the 1960s from segregation. so when republicans talk about how terrible the federal government is, that doesn't resonate with african-americans, because they have a very different experience. >> yeah, it's always so forth worth noting that we get an african-american president before we have a meaningful number of african-american statewide elected officials, right? you would think that it would take sort of a reservoir of senators and governors before, but, in fact, that's not what
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happens, because in part, what happens in localities and states is often not good for people of color. >> that's right. and don't forget, richard nixon had something to do with this as well. richard nixon adopted the southern strategy. that was a deliberate strategy to reach out to southern white voters. let me give you a statistic. in 1968, richard nixon's worst state, when he ran -- when he first ran for president, was mississippi. he got about 17% of the vote, because george wallace got about two-thirds of the vote in mississippi. >> that's right. >> in 1972, richard nixon's best state was mississippi. you had together the wallace vote and the nixon vote and you get the republican vote of 1972 and beyond. that captures exactly what happened. >> and for that to happen, right, there's a thing that happens in the democratic party, right? the democratic party breaks apart, dixiecrats become republicans. i wonder, jelani, as we la look this very uncomfortable coalition in the republican party, the inability of boehner to keep his caucus together, is there any possibility that
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we'll -- that sort of the right fringe of the republican party will find some other place to go? >> that's exactly what will happen. i mean they are in the same position the democratic party was in for those 30 years. we're trying to placate two irreconcilable demographics. and it's an incredible thing. probably the story of 20th century politics is not that these dynamics are going on, was that the democrat party, the genius of these leaders, was that they managed to hold the whole thing together for so long. >> right. >> and in addition to this, one of the things that we see, when you saw that clip from lbj, that lyndon johnson was influenced by seeing what the new deal did in texas. he always goes back, and talking about what an influence that was, and seeing that government actually could help a regular, common person. and the political lubricant that allowed this to happen was the white working class, that the
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presumption that the beneficiaries would be white people. which makes haroldici harold an like him heroic. demanding that plaqblack people cut in. he says, can we expand this now. that's what lbj is saying. he says, can we expand this. this language of government step in and being able to help people fundamentally and be inclusive of black people and it's disastrous for southern democrats. >> there's a moment in the 1995, when my senator in louisiana, mary landrieu, a louisiana democrat, introduces a bill that is an apology on the part of the senate, an apology to the american people and to african-americans in particular for having never passed anti-lynching legislation, right? so that southern veto that we were talking about was often used by southern democrats to keep the anti-lynching legislation from occurring. and in 2005, just two months before katrina, a louisiana
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democrat introduces this apology that the senate then takes up. i felt such hope at that moment, alan, and of course, right after that, two months after that katrina happens, the sort of race story of katrina emerges. and yet just a few years after that, the election of president obama. i have to say, i got a little racially giddy about potentially where we were going. and then the past seven years have been difficult and culminating in this shutdown, which now feels like this thing from the 1930s. >> right. but i think that the shutdown, one of the reasons that the shutdown blows up the conservative narrative in a lot of ways and why you see this erosion of the tea party support, republican support in the public, during the shutdown, is because it reminds people what government actually does and what the federal government actually does. so like the new deal, and lbj, people say, right, i'm actually benefiting from mortgage security. i'm actually benefiting from the ability to go to the state parks and the like. it's not just people of color, but it's all of us.
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and it includes peel of color, thanks to lbj. so i think it becomes more and more difficult, even though they want to shut down the government, for them to tell their story when they have. >> yeah. hold for just a moment. because before we move on this morning, i do want to pause, to show all of our viewers, but especially our viewers here in the new york area, this poster. this is a missing person poster for avonte kindo. he is a 14-year-old boy with autism who does not communicate verbally. he's been missing since october 4th. avonte's family, volunteers, and new york city police have been engaged in a massive search for the young man who is said to be particularly fond of trains. now, i want to add to the voices, asking that anyone with information regarding avonte, please contact authorities. call 1-800-577-tips. there is a reward for his safe return. after the break, we're keeping our eye on the ongoing government shutdown and the one city bearing an unusual brunt of the stress of the shutdown, that
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verizon. ♪ talking about money there is a 143-year-old law that actually mandates a government shutdown. and it may be the reason that washington, d.c., the city, may screech to a halt this week. the anti-deficiency act passed by congress in 1870 prohibits the government from incurring any monetary obligation for which congress has not appropriated funds. one of those obligations, the entire district of columbia. now, remember, d.c. is a city without a state. the district has been spending $20 million a day from its contingency fund to keep running during the shutdown. but that fund could tap out as soon as today. and thanks to the anti-deficiency act, the district of columbia is barred by pent alty of law by accessin the $1.5 billion of its own
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locally raised taxes it has stashed away in a rainy day fund. mayor vincent gray on wednesday crashed a senate press conference to bring attention to d.c.'s plight. it earned him a bit of a scolding from senate majority leader harry reid. >> i'm on your side, don't screw it up. i'm on your side. >> joining me now is washington, d.c. mayor vincent gray. thanks for being here. >> what did you think senator reid meant when he said, "i'm on your side, don't screw it up"? >> i have absolutely no idea. those who are on our side at this stage, the easiest thing for them to do would be to approve the district being able to spend our own money. it's amazing how few people really understand that what we're talking about is not an appropriation of federal money. we're talking about being given the authority to spend our own money. we raise the money through our property taxes, through our
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sales taxes, and through our income taxes. we have a budget of $10 billion. $6 billion of that we raise ourselves, each year, just like any other state, city, or county. and the federal money we get, we get it in the same way that every other state does. so all we're asking for is the authority to spend our own money, not anybody else's money, it's archaic and it needs to be changed. >> and i think you're right. that for most americans, they don't really understand that relationship that d.c. has to the federal government. but tell folks just a little bit about the effects that the shutdown is having on d.c. because y'all are particularly vulnerable to the economic and social effects of it. >> well, absolutely. first of all, you can see the effects, just by looking at the level of business being done in the district of columbia. you know, our restaurants, for example, our hospitality industry, all are affected by this. and then, we have made the decision to keep our government
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going. we're not going to close down our government, so we're having to go into what reserves that we have to be able to make those payments. our employees deserve to be paid, and we've chose ton pay them on their payday. we have a payday coming up on tuesday and then another one on the 29th at the end of the month. those pay periods are almost $100 million by themselves. and right now, the only way we can make that payment is out of reserve funds, which are rapidly being depleted. >> what happens if the shutdown persists for another week if d.c.? >> well, we would certainly be facing the prospect of being out of reserves. you know, we would have to ask, for example, those who provide services, some of our health care providers, some of our other non-profits, to be able to continue to provide services and they will get paid later. what is really absolutely unconscionable about this is that we have the money. we spent time, you know, for months working on a budget that is completely balanced. we've had 18 consecutive years
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of balanced budget. our budget for this year again is balanced. all we're asking for is the opportunity to spend our own money. >> mayor, when you frame it that way, when you talk about the opportunity to spend your own money, is this the moment, despite all of the negative things that the shutdown is doing to the city, is this the moment where you can re-articulate, in a way that maybe people can hear, an argument for d.c. statehood? >> i absolutely think so. because many people just don't get it. they don't know that much about the district of columbia. i've had, you know, all kinds of statements made, as you go further and further outside the beltway, about the district of columbia, that reflect people really don't understand. we are a city of 632,000 people. we actually have more people living in the district of columbia than in the entire state of vermont, the entire state of wyoming. so we're not small, we're not inconsequential, and we're not ask anybody for anything, other than the opportunity to be able to do what everybody else does. and that is to be able to manage and control their own money.
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>> we've been talking a bit about the wyoming senatorial race here on the show, and you know, obviously spent some time finding out that there are about 500,000 people, far fewer than that in terms of voters. so obviously you have a claim at least on the population basis. mayor gray, i certainly hope that the shutdown is resolved quickly for the good of your constituents. >> thank you very much. and we certainly hope so too. >> thank you. mayor vincent gray, thank you for joining us. and alan and bill, thanks for spending a part of your morning with us. up next is an update on a story that we've covered pretty extensively on this program, the walmart associate who protested his company can now says he was fired in retaliation. stay with us. hey guys.
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with limited availability in select markets. with an innovative showerhead plus wireless speaker, kohler is the proud sponsor of singing in the shower. bigger, tougher messes was better leverage, he created a magic eraser with an attachable handy grip. it gives you the leverage you need to tackle tough kitchen messes and big bathroom grime, too. mr. clean's new magic eraser handy grip. if you felt last year's black friday protests against walmart were big, according to organizers, you ain't seen
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nothing yet. the protests last year resulted in more than 400 workers walking out of walmart stores across the country. this year, organizers predict protests will be widespread and massive. but while workers continue to struggle against the retail giant, it does not come without a cost. several striking workers claim that they have experienced retaliation and unjust firings. joining me now from dallas is kolbe harris, a former walmart associate, who as recently as september 5th, participated in a protest outside of a dallas walmart. two day after that protest, colby appeared on that program, talking about what demonstrators have called walmart's unfair labor and wages. colby was fired on september 30th and he claims it was in retaliation for protesting against the company. we reached o out to walmart for comment, but the company has not yet responded. thank you for joining us again. >> thank you for having me on. >> when were you fireded a eand
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was the reason? >> i was fired on september 30th and the reason they gave me is that i had an excess of absences and tardies. the reality is that the absences and tardies came from all the days i was taking legally protected strikes and one of the days they said they fired me for was a day where i was hospitalized with pneumonia and actually brought an excused doctor's note to them and they told me that it was excused, but they ended up firing me for that day as well as the days i protested. >> part of what's interesting to me here, colby, i read a little bit about your story when you talk about producers, and not only were you fired, but you say that since you were fired, you went, for example, to retrieve your check and retreated not just like someone who no longer works there, but like someone who is no longer even welcomed on the premises. >> actually, just last week they filed an injunction on our organization, stating that at my store in lancaster, texas, i am not allowed or any other people from the organization are allowed to step on their premises for two weeks. and they just filed that last week against us.
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>> so let me ask you this. will you continue to be involved in protests despite the fact that you're not longer employed by walmart? >> oh, most definitely i will, and they know that, and that is the reason they fired me, they thought they could somehow slow me down or slow our organization down. but what they did is created an avenue where i can have more opportunities to speak about what's actually going on with this company and going on with more stores. so they gave me hand up. >> let me ask you a question. what difference would it have made if you were a unionized employee, at the moment, at which you were fired? or at least what difference do you believe it would have made if you were in a union? >> well, that's actually not what we're seeking, but i think the difference would have been is, is there would have been a fair due process. and they wouldn't have just fired me off days that i know i'm legally protected to strike. i think i would have been at least given the right process. they would have given me my check. i had to go up there two days after i was fired, to give me my
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check and the paper stating the reason why i was fired. which i have here in my hand. >> obviously, we don't yet have a statement from walmart, but undoubtedly they're going to take a different position on this. they're going to say that you were not present and that you had absenteeism. but part of this is also because texas is an at-will employment state. so what did that mean for you. in other words, when walmart decided to let you go, how much of a reason, how much evidence did they have to give you? >> little to none. the day i was fired, they brought me into the office ten minutes before my shift ended, two commanders got me, read me into the office, stating the two dates that i was absent, which is one day where i was hospitalized and the other day where i was in jail for a protest. i didn't sign any documentation, and they escorted me out of the building with all the managers. and ied that no documentation. >> colby, have you found new employment yet? >> oh, i have not yet at the exact moment. i've actually been still going inside stores and trying to organize the associates, but i will have to file for
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unemployment. i'm still currently seeking another job as well. >> how worried are you that this firing is going to affect your ability to find other employment? >> i'm not worried at all, because i know what i was doing was right. every day that i was absent and taking those strikes, they were legally protected and walmart simply didn't adhere to our federal laws and decided to break the law by firing me. so i know i can still go to another job and be employed because what i was doing was right and protected legally. >> colby harris, we appreciate your courage. i said before when you were here in nerdland that i believe you were being courageous, now, obviously, you believe that you've been fired as a result of this it and yet you continue to speak out, and that for me counts as real courage. thank you. >> thank you, i appreciate it. up next, there is someone very special coming to nerdland. if you don't know who big freida is, you need to know who big freida is, and if you don't know, you're about to find out who big freida is because big
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big freedia might not be a household name in your house yet, but where i live, it is. and she's taking dance music to new highs with a reality show on fuse tv. >> comes from gospel move, singing in church choirs, directing church choirs. that's my background. my mom loved when i was singing church. >> where you originally started, in the church. >> oh, my god. he can make them work it. >> and the diva is making it work and i'm pleased to welcome to nerdland, the one and only big freedia. thank you fg being here. >> i'm excited to be here. >> i wanted you hear for all kinds of reasons, but talk to me about why you're doing a reality show. what is the reality you're trying to teach people about? >> definitely to open doors for bounce music to become mainstream. that's the main focus, but to give people involved in big
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freedia and in my world and in my movement. bounce music and the culture from new orleans is very exciting that the production company put this together and fuse picked it up, even though the network that the reality show is airing on. so i'm excited that this is happening for new orleans, for our culture, and for bounce music as a whole. >> when you say "our culture," i feel like people like to think about sort of this imagine time in new orleans, when it was always jazz music. so people want to talk just about, like, jazz is our culture, and a lot of folks don't really know about our current -- what we actually listen to on a day-to-day basis. so tell people, what is bounce? >> bounce music is an up tempo, heavy response type music, definitely born and raised out of new orleans. it's been around for over two decades. it's time for the world to know about it and see. it has been captivated so long in norris, but we have that as well as the mardi gras indiand
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jazz and so much good talent that comes from new orleans, now it's time for the world to be able to see more than the lil' waynes and bee gees and juveniles. they get to see it on the another level. >> not that i'm mad about wayne. >> not at all, i'm very supportive. that's repping new orleans and repping our city, so i'm excited about all of that. >> it's funny, we are such a place. there are some places where you can wake up and be in any city, but it's not true for us, right? one of the things, we will bounce remix everything. >> everything. everything that comes out. that's the way we learn it. we don't learn it the normal way, we learn it on the bounce beat. >> in fact, right after the tragic death of whitney houston, all of the radio play was whitney houston remixed in bounce. >> definitely was. they had a whole segment of whitney and every song was flipped with a bounce beat. >> so what does that mean? for us, i always think of bounce in part bridging divides, bridging together black and
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white, uptown, mid-city, everybody. >> all walks of life. that's what you come to see a big freedia show. you get a chance to express yourself through dance music and feel comfortable about it. >> talk to me about that expression through dance. because, obviously, twerking has gotten to be kind of a phenomenon, but twerking isn't new, it's just part of the big bounce culture. >> right. >> what happens if people can start putting twerking into context, in all of what bounce is? >> well, like you said, it is the overall of bounce music. twerking is one of those words in the vocabulary of bounce. and it's just exciting to be able to teach people about this, you know, and about new orleans and where it comes from and the origins of it. it's been around for a long time. people have been twerking. and for it to be coming to the mainstream and for miley to open that door, i'm excited about it. >> let me ask you this. i know that, undoubtedly, folks watching right now, and who may
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even watch the fuse reality show, who are going to say, professor perry, you have somebody on who's talking about twerking and bounce music and hip hop, and those are negative representations, particularly negative representations in blackness. and i always feel like, no, this is who we are, good, bad, all of it, but how would you respond to that idea that this is bad or negative? >> i basically respond to, it's a new generation. people are being very bold about what they do and how they express themselves through music, through fashion, through different looks. and you know, people, we are being able to express ourselves this new generation, it's not about being afraid to express your culture or who you are or where you come from. and we're very bold in new orleans. we want to represent, we want to get, you know, we shake from zero to 99. and we represent and we let people know that this is our culture, and we're not afraid to be who we are. and i'm just one of those
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representatives to let people know, be who you are. don't be afraid. express yourself through dance, through music, through fashion, through all of it. >> speaking of shaking from zero to 99, you just won a guiness world book for the largest twerk. i want to take a look at the video. this was here in new york, in times square. and it really was zero from 99, all different races. people out there doing their best. >> yes, they were. >> what kind of energy do you get from a moment like this? >> it's exciting, because you get to see people have fun, you know, in a rare form. you get to see all different walks of life gather together. and it was very exciting for me. it was like a big old concert, right in the middle of harris square. and i was excited that fuse put that together. >> it was kind of fun to watch that piece happening here. stick with us for just a moment. we'll bring some other folks to the table. i'm giving up my footnote, which is when i normally stand up and pontificate about something, uh
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be i want big freedia to stay with us and bring some other folks to the table, because i want to discuss the complicated realities of images of race and gender in the media. there are some new studies from an "essence" study. we'll talk about that when we come back. [ unr ass people like to pretend a flood [ female ane could never happen to them. and that their homeowners insurance protects them. [ thunder crashes ]
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here's a quick test. name five people that you think define positive representations of african-american women on television right now. having trouble? well, according to a new study by "essence" magazine, that's not a big are surprise. pare participants in their study found that images of black women on tv mostly consisted of angry black women, baby mamas, and gold diggers. those images aren't only negative, but steep in stereotypes. big freedia still at the table,
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je lanny co jelani cobb. vanessa, talk to me about what the findings were from the "essence" study about media images of black women. >> we know that the power of media is profound, so we wanted to take a look at why there are so many more black women on media than ever before, we wondered if there was balance. so we asked 1,200 participants to keep visual diaries of what they were seeing on the internet, in magazines, on tv, and just kind of rank where they -- did they feel like they were being adequately represented. and what we found is that there is really a huge gulf between these extreme characterizations of, you know, there's either -- you've got the superstars like oprah or michelle obama, and on the other end, there are these other extreme characterizations, as you said, baby mamas, modern jezebels, gold diggers, angry black women. and there's this whole gulf in the middle that's not being represented. you know, people like you, people like our mothers, our sisters, our girlfriends, that we're not seeing at all. >> so it's interesting.
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i know y'all called this the problem of the invisible middle. and i've been trying to kind of sort through this a little bit and thinking, okay, on the one hand, it's the invisible middle, by which you mean sort of ordin black women working, making a life, building a world. i also wonder if there's an invisibility in, for example, the baby mama, or in these things that are so-called negative stereotypes that we actually can't see their humanity. i wanted to play just a moment from big freda's show. i love this moment. it was a thing that felt to me like an invisibility of us, but that i'm imagining people might respond to in very different ways. let's listen. >> i want this time to be about quality time with my family. so today i'm putting together this big family crawfish boil. i support my whole family. a lot of pressure is on me. but family is all i have. i'll do any and everything for them. >> right, so here you are having crawfish boil, which is, you
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know, ordinary life for us. >> yes, definitely. >> but invisible for a lot of folks. i'm thinking there are people who would look and say, these are poor people, these are black people. yet, this is about family. this is you bringing out, in part, the invisible middle of the things we sometimes think of as negative stereotypes. does that make sense? >> most definitely. >> it absolutely does make sense. i guess what we're trying to say in this study is if there were balance, if you saw more diversity, then there would be a truer picture of who we really are. you would see our complete humanity. what you're seeing is a scratch of the surface. it's predominantly, you know, just negative and sometimes feels mean spirited. >> i wonder what we might think the impacts of these images are. >> well, i definitely think that they just have a really terrible effect on the self-esteem of black women. i also think that there's a connection between these images on television and the earlier discussion we were having about government, the role of
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government, the shutdown. so it's one of the ways in which people who don't think of themselves as conservatives actually perpetuate these negative stereotypes that then drive things like tax revolts and a passion for starving government programs. i think that -- i don't really think it's going to change, actually, until there's a really unified inside, outside strategy to shift the media so people inside the media working from there to develop reality shows like michelle barnwell does, for example, where you have the same sets of characters but the story telling is about the real experiences that those cast members have, about the things they really worry about and think about. family, love, work, kids. so i think from the inside, that work has to happen. but also from the outside, consumers have to demand something different. hollywood keeps giving us this because we watch it and the ratings are high.
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so they don't test very often what else we might like and what else we might watch. but when those shows go up, like the show that michelle did for b.e.t., that was a really different kind of reality show. no hot tubs. no martini glasses flying. the highest rated show in b.e.t. history. clearly audiences will respond to great content if it's up there. >> and you know, part of what i always want to resist is this kind of respectability policy where we look at the negative images. they're appalling, but i don't to say, therefore, only put ph.d. light-skinned black ladies on. first of all, that's not even the totality of who i am, much less who all black women are. >> i think the entirety is to be able to deal with people's fundamental humanity. i think that given that there are 41 million black people in this country, there's 41 million different black realities. we'll see more shows like images
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of an awkward black girl. shows like that, you know, kind of show there are these different kinds of slices of black life people would be interested in seeing. i think we tend to look at it in a siloed way, though. television deals with a lot of stereotypes. lots of different types of characters. >> the things happening with white women on reality tv are not exactly positive. >> right. it's kind of -- what they do is they sell these narrow slivers of who a person might be. the problem is that with african-americans, those narrow slivers actually drive policy. i think that's why we become concerned about it. >> right, because the stakes are just higher in that case. part of what's interesting about balance is also the ways that it crosses lines of sexuality. so you know, i know you reject the notion of sissy bounce is a separate bounce movement produced by gay men. but i think about katy red and the ways in which she's a pioneer in bounce music but also a gay black man who cross
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dresses and yet is loved often by hyper masculine hip-hop brothers. like, there's this -- i think there's a way in which we see that, we can see that when we get to the real of who people are and sometimes to music and to art, there's ways to bridge those divides. >> right. i definitely think that i, you know, help possess a power that's inside of me to help cross that over with connecting with a lot of males. you know, being able to be who i am and not be afraid to be who i am. when people see me, they respect me and respect my character. fuse has took a chance on doing this reality show and letting people see another side to the world. just like she said, different consumers, they just give us whatever we feed off of. if we demand more from them and start to open doors for new shows and new ideas and to see
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realness and family oriented shows, i think things will change. the world is changing on that level, in social media as well. >> i'm going to give you the last round, but thank you so much for the work "essence" has done here. they've obviously pioneered images of black women for decades. i love that you all are continuing to keep an eye on who are we in this space. thanks to everybody. that is our show for today. thanks to all of you at home for watching. i'll see you next saturday, 10:00 a.m. eastern. right now it's time for a preview of "weekends with alex witt." >> great discussion. thanks so much. day 13 of the government shutdown and just four days until the debt ceiling deadline. several key developments to tell you about. a warning from one pilots union about its new terror fears. is the concern a valid one? i'll ask an expert. also, the mystery of lee harvey oswald. a new book examines what happens during his time in the soviet union and how it might have effects the killing of kennedy 50 years ago. and my conversation with
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elizabeth smart. she tells me somehow she got her kidnappers to return to the scene of the crime, which eventually led to her rescue. don't go anywhere. i'll be right back. if you have the audacity to believe in straight talk, not double-talk. if you have the nerve to believe that in a puzzling financial world, clarity is king. [ man ] if you believe nothing beats a sit-down for knowing where you stand. [ male announcer ] join the nearly 7 million investors who think like you do: face time and think time make a difference.
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